As one of the town’s oldest clubs, Burnley Wood Club recently celebrated its 125th year in its current Branch Road establishment, with their 140th birthday to come later in the year.
While things have changed over the decades since it was first opened in the 1800s, the well-known Wood Club still retains a core membership and set of values centred on casual enjoyment and community spirit.
The current building in which the club – among the oldest in the area along with Fulledge Conservative Club and Burnley Miners’ Social Club – was opened on Saturday, April 18th, in 1891 by Sir John Thursby, amid the pomp and fanfare of a parade, which saw clubmembers march with a banner held aloft from St Stephen’s Schoolroom to the sounds of Bank Hall Reed Band.
The club had been founded 15 years prior to its move to the corner of Brunswick and Branch Street, with original premises located first in Springfield Road, then Waterloo Road.
A club spokesman said: “It started off as a conservative cause in 1876 and they got their first premises in Springfield Road but within a few years they had outgrown the premises so they got another in Waterloo Road. After that, it outgrew it again, so they got a purpose-built premises in Branch Road in 1891, and we’ve been there ever since.
“We’ve been going for 140 years, throughout the generations. It’s an ongoing thing for Burnley.”
We’ve been going for 140 years, throughout the generationsSpokesman
The new premises cost an estimated £1,100, and the opening ceremony, conducted by Sir John Thursby himself, welcomed members into their new home, complete with a reading room, kitchen, storeroom and classic billiards, droughts and smoke rooms.
Funds were raised for the building and furnishing of the premises by selling shares totalling £520 and a £500 mortgage, while opening night saw Sir John donate an additional £50 for one of the billiards tables.
“When it first opened, downstairs was only a reading room and upstairs was mainly the games room for snooker, don and dominoes and pub games,” said the spokesman. “Through the 20th Century, everything’s changed, when we first opened we only had a little room at the bottom and we extended into the shops to make it all one big downstairs and then the steward’s house next door, we also extended into that – that’s now our snooker and buffet room upstairs.
“In the late 1980s we bought next door to that which was a house, so it’s one massive downstairs now.
Everything’s gone open plan.”
With the acceptance of women members, the serving of alcohol and the premises having undergone various extensions and internal changes, the building’s 125-year history has seen many a change, but some things never change.
“Traditions like snooker, billiards - they all still go now,” said the spokesman.